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Oct '14

Hands That Cut Through Stone

Balanced Rock Karate Chop

SUBMITTED BY: Jadelyn & Greig Nakamura  LOCATION: Arches National Park, Utah (2014)

Pretending to hold a famous landmark, such as the Liberty Bell or the Leaning Tower of Pisa, is one of the toughest photo-ops to pull off. Everything needs to be perfect. The camera angle, the palm arc, the wind conditions, everything. The slightest deviation can cause your Tacky Tourist Photo to look like this, causing tremendous embarrassment for generations to come.

So a lot of pressure was put on Greig to cup Balanced Rock, a popular rock formation in Utah’s storied Arches National Park. Positioned just an inch or two lower and Greig may have pulled this illusion off. (We know that he meant well, and that’s the only important thing). Instead, Greig inadvertently gives off a karate chop vibe, looking as if he is severing the boulder from it precarious perch.

It turns out that these natural stone formations are a lot more fragile than they appear. In 2013, two Utah Boy Scout leaders were caught toppling a 170 million-year-old rock formation in Goblin Valley State Park. They were caught primarily because they made a YouTube video of themselves destroying the rock formation while pushing the 1990 dance single “Wiggle It.” The leaders were subsequently thrown out of the Scouts for violating the “Leave No Trace” hiking motto.

Staying behind the fence, Greig wasn’t taking any chances.

(Greig Nakamura is a high-profile guidance counselor in the Hawaii public schools.)

May '11

Urine (You’re in) for a big adventure!

Comedian Eugene Mirman vicariously irrigates the soil in Utah's majestic desert.

SUBMITTED BY: Eugene Mirman   LOCATION: Moab, Utah (2011)

On the right, Eugene’s horse is named Dalton. Katie’s horse is named Cisco.

Years from now when they have grandchildren — Cisco and Dalton, not Eugene and Katie — they will be flipping through their photo album and reminiscing about their days working the trails at the Sorrel River Ranch.

“Remember the greeting we gave those city folk from Brooklyn?” Dalton will say with a mischievous grin.

(Comedian Eugene Mirman did NOT come up with the horrific bodily fluid pun in this post’s headline. Check out his far more clever and classier material at EugeneMirman.com).

Mar '11

Hanging on for 127 Seconds

Eat your heart out, James Franco!

SUBMITTED BY: Eugene Mirman & Katie Westfall-Tharp
LOCATION: Moab, Utah (2011)

In the majestic Utah desert, not far from where James Franco grimaced for his Oscar nomination in 127 Hours, comedian Eugene Mirman opted not to pretend to saw his arm off with a pocket knife.

Splattered blood is a major turn-off for his girlfriend Katie, who also couldn’t resist the classic cliffhanger pose.

Television set decorator Katie Westfall-Tharp may be ready for her close-up on the other side of the camera.

(According to The New York Times, Eugene Mirman is a Brooklyn comedian known for wearing “schlumpy dark sweaters.” Katie Westfall-Tharp is the designer of the Eugenie Awards, a prestigious comedy trophy fashioned out of a naked Ken doll).

Feb '10

The Canyon Cliffwalker*

Hiking to the top of the Grand Canyon in three easy steps

Hiking to the top of Kolob Canyon in three easy steps

SUBMITTED BY: Chris Hartzell and Ame Wells    LOCATION: Zion National Park, Utah (2009)

Why bother with the burros and those eroding switchback trails when you can just use the shortcut?

Nature photographer Chris Hartzell has amazing balance to be able to maintain this Karate Kid pose. And his wife Ame has laser beam vision to be able to line up Chris’ hands so perfectly.

Many people try these “forced perspective” trick photos, but most of the time the hands are usually off by a few millimeters or so.

As for the hazards of forging his own Kolob Canyon trail, well, let’s just say that Chris is used to flirting with danger. The ballistic shark below is digitally enhanced, but those stunning chompers are the real deal.

Deep Throat

Deep Throat

Diving off the coast of the Guadalupe Islands, Chris stuck his head outside his shark cage to get this shot and you can read about what happened after that here.

(Adventure photographers Chris Hartzell and Ame Wells enjoy digital painting their favorite pictures. Check out their butterflies, cheetahs, elephants, tree frogs and wildflowers at PhotoStrokes.net )

* CORRECTION: This post originally referred to the Grand Canyon as the location of this photo. Wrong state. Wrong canyon. And we deeply regret misleading our readers. But the beauty of the picture remains the same.